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Angels wept today because of that "America wants to 'unfriend' Eduardo Saverin" joke you made. Unimaginative Republican strategists want to rehash the Reverend Wright controversy, meaning Mitt Romney's "3 AM phone call" advertisement can't be far off ("It's 3 AM and your children are safe and asleep, but there's a phone in a very large boat near the Cape and it's ringing..."). And Gary Johnson ripped off Gallagher in his latest campaign spot, raising fears that his next ad will feature him clad in suspenders alongside Paula Poundstone. This is HUFFPOST HILL for Thursday, MAy 17th, 2012:
WARREN: JPM.....OR AIG? - "It's a reminder of AIG,"
the patron saint of NPR Mass. Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren told HuffPost Hill. "Remember how AIG had a big institution that at least, by all reports, 98 percent of it was sober, well managed financial activity, but one very small division took on extraordinary risk that brought down the company and nearly brought down the world economy." Asked if it was criminal, she said: "I don't know, but it worries me that the explanation of the trade has changed so rapidly. The initial description was that this was a hedging transaction, this was a financial institution trying to do exactly what it was supposed to do....Now the story seems to have shifted and it seems widely reported that the transaction was a plump-the-profits transaction, undertaken to build the bottom line, not to hedge against risk." FDL News also spoke with Warren, and she told David Dayen that she is "not confident" that Obama's Wall Street task force will take Wall Street to task. [FDL]
I WILL GIVE YOU D.C. ABORTION - When the going gets tough, the tough pick on the unrepresented citizens of Washington, D.C., exclude Eleanor Holmes Norton from hearings, etc. Laura Bassett: "A nationwide ban on abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy would be difficult to push through both chambers of Congress, but Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.) is taking his chances on a consolation prize: a 20-week abortion ban in the District of Columbia. The District of Columbia Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act (H.R. 3803) would ban abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy in Washington, D.C., unless the mother's life is in danger. Franks, the sponsor of the bill, held a congressional hearing Thursday in which he called abortions after 20 weeks 'the greatest human rights atrocity occurring on U.S soil.'" [HuffPost]
Romney called a plane an "aircraft" today. Just sayin'.
SENATORS TAKE BIG POLITICAL RISK AND TARGET ANNOYING RICH BRAT WHO FLED THE COUNTRY - Dan Froomkin and Mike McAuliff: "Populist anger at Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin's decision to renounce his U.S. citizenship -- a move that could save him hundreds of millions in taxes if his Facebook stock gains value after the company goes public on Friday -- has inspired two senators to propose legislation that could hit Saverin with heavy taxes and bar him from ever reentering the United States. Sens. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Bob Casey (D-Pa.) are unveiling the Ex-PATRIOT Act, which stands for 'Expatriation Prevention by Abolishing Tax-Related Incentives for Offshore Tenancy,' on Thursday. The bill would force anyone who "expatriates for a substantial tax purpose -- as judged by the Internal Revenue Service" to pay a mandatory 30 percent tax on future capital gains. The ex-citizens would also be turned back at the border if they ever tried to come back." Love it! We give this three cans of Four Loko out of a possible four on our "Chuck Schumer capitalizing on a groundswell of populist anger about [issue x] " grading scale. [HuffPost]
Two-and-a-half cans of Four Loko for this (although Chuck isn't involved), via the Times: "The Massachusetts Democratic Party said Thursday that it had made Freedom of Information Act requests to six government agencies in hopes of learning whether Senator Scott P. Brown had helped JPMorgan Chase seek a loophole in a law meant to limit risky trading. In a news release, the party said that Mr. Brown's re-election campaign had received at least 30 contributions in February from employees of JPMorgan and the company's federal political action committee. The New York Times reported last week that JPMorgan executives had met with Federal Reserve officials that month to express concerns about the restrictions on banks' proprietary trading -- known as Volcker Rule -- that were called for in the Dodd-Frank financial regulation law." [NYT]
DAILY DELANEY DOWNER - A few months ago, weekly unemployment claims were tumbling. Then they shot up unexpectedly. Now they're just kinda hanging out at an uncomfortable level. "In the week ending May 12, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 370,000, unchanged from the previous week's revised figure of 370,000," the Labor Department said this morning. "The 4-week moving average was 375,000, a decrease of 4,750 from the previous week's revised average of 379,750." Ehhhh. [DOL]
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DISGRUNTLED -- AND QUITE POSSIBLY BORED -- RICH GUY THINKING ABOUT SWAYING THE PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION (AGAIN) - Times: "A group of high-profile Republican strategists is working with a conservative billionaire on a proposal to mount one of the most provocative campaigns of the 'super PAC' era and attack President Obama in ways that Republicans have so far shied away from. Timed to upend the Democratic National Convention in September, the plan would "do exactly what John McCain would not let us do,' the strategists wrote. The plan, which is awaiting approval, calls for running commercials linking Mr. Obama to incendiary comments by his former spiritual adviser, the Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr., whose race-related sermons made him a highly charged figure in the 2008 campaign... the proposal... was overseen by Fred Davis and commissioned by Joe Ricketts, the founder of the brokerage firm TD Ameritrade. Mr. Ricketts is increasingly putting his fortune to work in conservative politics... The group suggested hiring as a spokesman an 'extremely literate conservative African-American' who can argue that Mr. Obama misled the nation by presenting himself as what the proposal calls a 'metrosexual, black Abe Lincoln.'" [NYT]
If this proposal was a political test balloon to see if the Wright attack will fly, Romney shot a cannon ball through it today. "I repudiate the effort by that PAC to promote an ad strategy of the nature they've described," he said during an interview with Townhall.com. "I would like to see this campaign focus on the economy, on getting people back to work, on seeing rising incomes and growing prosperity ... And I think what we've seen so far from the Obama campaign is a campaign of character assassination. I hope that isn't the course of this campaign. So in regards to that PAC, I repudiate what they're thinking about." [HuffPost's Sam Stein]
::RABBLE:: ::RABBLE:: DEBT CEILING ::RABBLE:: ::RABBLE:: ::RABBLE:: ::RABBLE:: ::RABBLE:: ::RABBLE:: - Jen Bendery: "House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Thursday slammed House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) for sparking another potential showdown over tying an increase in the debt ceiling to trillions in spending cuts. 'They did it before. Here we go again,' Pelosi told reporters during her weekly briefing... And in his Thursday briefing with reporters, Boehner doubled down that it's time for Congress to address the debt in a serious way.'The only ones who are talking about drama or brinksmanship are my Democratic colleagues across the aisle,' Boehner said. 'We can use the debt limit debate to force Washington to act, to cut spending and enact some of the real reforms that will help put America on a path to prosperity.'" Thanks, Congress! [HuffPost]
SENATE VOTES TO
NOT END THE FED CONFIRM FEDERAL RESERVE NOMINEES - Both votes were solidly bipartisan, which means the activists who use handkerchiefs as filters -- and not as fashion accessories (although sort of that, too) -- will probably be pissed by this grotesque endorsement of BANKSTEROSITY. Bloomberg: "The U.S. Senate today confirmed President Barack Obama's two nominees to the Federal Reserve Board with both receiving the support of at least 70 senators. The Senate voted 70-24 to confirm the nomination of Jeremy Stein, a Harvard University professor and 74-21 to confirm Jerome Powell, an attorney and private equity investor who was a Treasury undersecretary for President George H.W. Bush. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Democrat from Nevada, said the $2 billion trading loss announced last week at JPMorgan Chase & Co. prompted his decision to push the nominations through and bolster the Fed's regulatory expertise with the two nominees, both experts in financial markets." [Bloomberg]
REPUBLICAN-CONTROLLED HOUSE WANTS TO SPEND MORE MONEY THAN THE PRESIDENT ASKED FOR - Austerity is confusing. The Hill: "The House Appropriations Committee passed a Defense bill Thursday that provides $3 billion more for defense than President Obama's proposed budget. The $608 billion Defense bill passed out of the full committee on a voice vote, setting up a showdown with the Senate Appropriations Committee, which is expected to move a budget that's funded at the level requested by the Obama administration. The same budget fight is expected for the Defense authorization bill, which sets defense policy and is being debated on the House floor Thursday. The fight over top-line spending stems from last year's Budget Control Act, which set spending caps for defense spending that led the Pentagon to propose cuts of $487 billion over the next decade." Sometimes we wonder if the House Republican leaders feel as if they aren't doing their job until someone writes that that their actions are "setting up a showdown" with someone. [The Hill]
The White House's cybersecurity coordinator is... wait for it... wait for it... logging off. Nailed it! Reuters: "Howard Schmidt, who was instrumental in developing the administration's legislative proposal on cybersecurity, will retire at the end of this month, the White House said on Thursday. His departure comes as controversy grows over cybersecurity legislation, with the House of Representatives having approved a bill that the White House and key Senate Democrats see as not comprehensive enough. Schmidt will be succeeded by Michael Daniel from the White House Office of Management and Budget where he has worked on cybersecurity and classified intelligence and defense program issues." [Reuters]
Bad news for fans of semi-governmental parcel delivery: "The nearly bankrupt U.S. Postal Service is moving ahead with plans to close dozens of mail processing centers, saying on Thursday it can no longer wait as Congress remains deadlocked over how to help. At a news briefing, Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe said the agency's mail processing network had simply become too big, given declining mail volume and its mounting debt. It will now consolidate nearly 250 plants as originally planned, including 48 this summer, but will stretch out the remainder over a longer time frame in 2013 and 2014." [AP]
GARY JOHNSON PULLS A GALLAGHER - America's well funded watermelon lobby is not going to appreciate this. Atlantic: "What do the comedian Gallagher and Libertarian presidential nominee Gary Johnson have in common? Now we know: They both want to see Barack Obama lose in November, and they're both responsible for the violent demise of watermelons. This new ad from Johnson, the former governor of New Mexico, combines the simplicity of Mike Gravel's 'Rock' spot with the utter bizarreness of Herman Cain's recent videos -- and even borrows the tagline from that series, 'Any questions'" Cain better step up his game. It also appropriates an old Ron Paul line, exhorting viewers to 'Google Governor Gary Johnson.'" [Atlantic]
If you've ever had difficulty filing an insurance claim and want to keep whatever hair that you haven't yet wrested from your scalp, don't read this: "Lawmaker offices victimized by a rash of thefts on Capitol HIll will be able to get financial relief, according to the Committee on House Administration. The break-ins have occurred in the offices of at least three House members and several committees, according to local news reports. Missing items have reportedly included cash, computer equipment and signed memorabilia." [The Hill]
BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR - Lazy harp seal wants you to keep his resume on file, just in case.
GOOGLE IS NOT ALL KNOWING - HuffPost DC:Officials from Google were apparently unaware that members of the local D.C. media would show up to a demonstration of its self-driving car for members of the D.C. Council. [HuffPost]
- Don't try this at anywhere. [http://chzb.gr/Kl4mry]
- Lego artists talk about Lego art. [http://chzb.gr/Kl3Ppx]
- Cloth-climbing robot is probably not a good idea. [http://bit.ly/Kl4wz5]
- Want to build a paper safari? [http://bit.ly/Kl4h77]
- Seth MacFarlane and Neil deGrasse Tyson are bringing back COSMOS. [http://bit.ly/JzFUFP]
- Interview with a troll. [http://bit.ly/Kl5yuM]
- Here is a trippy video of liquids moving around and stuff! [http://bit.ly/JzGP9m]
@benjysarlin: Billionaires! Want to save a lot of money? Simply leak the content of your non-existent attack ad and let the press run with it.
@elisefoley: So is anyone doing a recut of Social Network where Saverin's the greedy villain?
@indecision: Rep. Mike Coffman says Obama isn't American in his heart. Great, now Obama has to release his cardiology test results.
5:30pm - 7:00pm: The makers of copper wire and big-river dams invite you to Celebrate the Electricity Storage Industry. Or alternately, it's an open invitation from Edward Abbey to Monkey Wrench Gang a reception. [1302 Longworth]
6:00pm: In case you needed a reminder that gender issues are simmering on the 2012 election stove, the DSCC's Reception for Women on the Road to the Senate is here to help. But at $2,500 a head, it had better be garnished with truffle oil. [1515 15th St., NW]
6:00pm: Nothing screams "Big Apple Republican" quite like hosting a fundraiser at the legendary speakeasy the 21 Club. Unless, of course, it's hosting a fundraiser for New Mexico House Republican Heather Wilson at the 21 Club. Sucka. [21 West 52nd St., New York City]
6:30pm: Are you a starving music prodigy at the prestigious Berklee College of Music in Boston? Great! Congrats.That, plus $2,500 gets you a ticket to the college president's house for tonight's Paul Simon concert and Obama fundraiser. [73 Somerset Street, Belmont, Mass.]
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